Home Is Where the Heart Is
USCA's Newest Cooperative Theme House Provides Support While Easing Student Housing Crunch
By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
The University Students' Cooperative Association unveiled a new gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender (GLBT) theme house Jan. 22.
The former Delta Sigma Phi fraternity, located at 2410 Warring St., is now home to 38 students who voted to recognize and support the needs of GLBT students. Residency is not restricted to GLBT students, however.
"To the best of my knowledge, this is the first GLBT-themed student cooperative on the West Coast," said George Proper, the association's manager.
The house, which underwent more than $300,000 in renovations, will add much-needed student housing to Berkeley's increasingly tight market.
Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean, who attended the opening ceremony, said she applauds the cooperative's contributions to student housing and "appreciates their efforts to provide affordable alternatives for students who otherwise might not be able to attend Berkeley."
With the addition of the GLBT house, the cooperative association now operates 20 facilities around campus, serving more than 1,250 students. The cooperative provides affordable housing for Berkeley students who, in exchange, work in the house a few hours each week to reduce costs.
Several other cooperative houses have adopted themes recognizing the special needs of particular groups -- among them African-American, politically active, non-traditional and vegetarian students.
"We have a long history of supporting diversity and the needs of minority students, going back to our roots during the Great Depression," said Proper.
During World War II, the co-op assumed operation of the Japanese Student Club while its residents were interned, returning it to them after the war. The association also opened the first co-ed student housing in the country in 1966.
The cooperative was started in 1933 by 14 students who, after persuading a community member to rent a boarding house to them, shared workshifts and combined resources to make ends meet during the Depression. The concept was so successful that the students built up capital and gradually began purchasing and converting other facilities around campus.
For information call 848-1936.